West German bank advertising and the East German public
: a study in intercultural advertising communication

  • Helen J. Kelly

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


In the wake of German unification, initial advertising by many West German companies in the new federal states (the former German Democratic Republic - GDR) proved largely ineffective and many advertisers were forced to change their approach to this new market. The advertising task proved even more complicated for banks, because banking existed only at the most basic level in the former GDR. Furthermore, under the old regime, "capitalist" banks represented the very antithesis of the GDR's founding ideology. This analysis of advertising by West German banks - in particular Dresdner Bank - in the new federal states brings together elements of discourse and communication theory, particularly Relevance Theory [Sperber and Wilson 1986], with the overall objective of designing a model of intercultural advertising communication. A series of simple association tasks based on texts from pre-Wende advertisements was completed by a sample of advertisees (as they are called in the study) in Leipzig. The research shows the lack of relevance between the advertiser's understanding of concepts such as "credit", "bank" etc. and the associations which these concepts have for the sample of advertisees. Further analysis reveals that this lack of relevance occurs because advertisers and advertisees assign differing contexts to these concepts when they communicate through advertising. The study concludes that these different contexts, governed by the contrasting ideological, economic and linguistic environments of the advertisers and advertisees, interfere with the effective communication of the advertising message.
Date of Award1995
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorNigel B Reeves (Supervisor)


  • West German bank advertising
  • East German public
  • intercultural advertising communication
  • advertising communication
  • relevance theory
  • ideology and communication
  • german advertising and unification
  • german banking and unification

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